First, for those who missed it: here's my little "Idiot's Guide to" private equity and also to the leveraged buyout. Now, onwards.
There will be a be a general strike this Friday, February 17.
How will it go? I would be lying if I told you I knew.
If the strike were being held in Europe, I'd wager a guess: the general strike would go very well. This short Washington Post article on general strikes in Europe is worth reading in its entirety, but here are my key takeaways:
- Strikingly, the number and success rate of general strikes in Europe is up since the 1980s.
- When these strikes are narrowly focused around union issues, they have not done as well. When they are organized around the defense of social programs - the European equivalent of Medicaid and Social Security - they are generally at least somewhat successful in wringing concessions from the governments at hand.
- File under "well, duh," but: when general strikes are held closer to elections, the strikes are more successful, and have a larger impact on the election at hand.
- Governments that experienced fewer strikes were more likely to be thunderstruck when a strike occurred. In other words, "strike fatigue" can set in.
But this strike will not be taking place in Europe - it will be taking place in the US of A. And this is a country where, in large part, we have forgotten how to strike.
Once strikes fall off in the Reagan era, they never come back in full force. And, funny thing, just take a look at the median income in this country over the same period:
How about them apples. GDP has roughly doubled, and the real earnings of full time workers has gone nowhere.
Let me once again quote Doug Henwood:
It’s wonderful to hear people talking lately about a general strike and a women’s strike. It would also be good to see some of the old-fashioned kind too. Employers hate them, because they disrupt production, raise wages, cut into profits, and remind them of the potential power of labor.
Jane McAlevey, the ace labor organizer and author of Raising Expectations (And Raising Hell)…says that her mentor, Jerry Brown of 1199 New England, used to say that workers should strike at least once every two years just to remind them of their power. Those were the days.
No matter who tells you this Friday will be a failure: strike. Even if it is only to flex your muscles.
Are you happy with your salary? Are you happy that GDP has doubled while the income of the middle class has stayed flat?